The Main Street Vegan Academy - A Life Changing Experience

The dust has settled, the bus-lag has worn off, and I'm cozy back in my midwestern apartment. But, the memories of my week in NYC for the Main Street Vegan Academy are still fresh and full of warmth. The whole experience feels like a dream, in some ways, but the people I met and the things I learned are very real and very inspiring.

What is this academy? On paper, one can describe it as a weeklong certification course to become a Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator, but in reality it is much more than that. Victoria Moran, renowned author, speaker, and Main Street Vegan podcast hostess, takes on 12 or more eager students 3-4 times per year, inviting them into her Harlem apartment, preparing fresh meals as nourishing brain food, and coordinating an impressive list of guest speakers. Six days of lectures may seem intense - and it is - but everything is tailored for those interested in creating a career (or side job or organization or other forms of activism) in vegan education and/or coaching.

Having attended all three Vida Vegan Cons, I can personally attest to the moving power of meeting and connecting with an all-vegan crowd. The feeling is beyond description, but I'll give it a try: Imagine meeting someone and feeling as if you've already known them for years, as if you've skipped the awkward beginning phases of friendship and are already connected on a deep, spiritual level. This is what it's like to meet other ethical vegans. And the Academy was no exception.

Each of the people I met were wonderfully kind and unique. Each had their own ambitions and curiosities about how they can move forward to change the world. Each had their own talents, niches, and perspectives. And, even though we only knew each other for 6 days, it felt like parting with family when all was said and done.

If you've ready my blog before, you know I have a tendency to get all mushy, so I'll also highlight some of the other amazing parts of the Academy. Firstly, the speakers! JL Fields (JL Goes Vegan) was a riot and pushed us to get out there and network, Matt Ruscigno (True Love Health) gave us real talk about not exaggerating veganism's health claims, Marty Davey (La Diva Dietitian) gave us a crash course in plant-based nutrition - and many belly laughs, John Joseph of the punk rock band Cro-Mags and the in-your-face literary work "Meat is For Pussies" gave a captivating account of his life and transition to veganism, Fran Costigan gave pointers on giving a flawless food demo.

The incredible women of Our Hen House, Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan, spoke to us about animal law and how to respond to inevitable vegan "gotcha" questions. And, so many other presenters dropped their knowledge on building a coaching practice, understanding the environmental impacts of factory farming and work of enviro-orgs to fight it, how to work with transitional and mixed-"diet" families and bring kids into the conversation, and so much more.

Forbes, the official mascot of the MSVA.

The hours were long, but our brains were filled by the end of the Academy. Each of us left the experience knowing we were linked into a growing network of VLCEs who are ready to take on the world. I truly cannot recommend the experience enough for anyone interested in learning how they can take their passion for veganism and turn it into something that can support and guide others to start happily living their compassion.

Thank you, Victoria, and all the October 2015 MSVA graduates!

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